Greetings ye reader

This is my first stab at TMNT fanfiction. It...was very much a spur of the moment writing. Just an idea I had and also to cover some things the new TMNT show seemed to rush too much of. Basically, the aftermath of tragedy that always seemed flat in the series. And it also helps I'm an angst whore. ("Lost Never Found" readers: I haven't abandoned that fic!)

Spoilers for some season 3 and 4 episodes of the new 2003 series are mentioned in this fanfic. For this chapter in particular, spoilers for the episode "Bad Day" found on the newest DVD release is mentioned. Do NOT read further if you don't want plot twists revealed.

Basically, the idea for this story came about from the combination of the Season 4 preview from 4Kids, "Same as it Never Was" and "Bad Day." Some "Exodus" moments as well, I guess. I have no idea how the official plot will go on, but my imaginative mine made its own story up based on interesting bits mostly from these episodes and previews.

Lastly, how far I'll go with this story (continuing-wise and psychologically)... I'm not sure myself...

Disclaimer: I do not own "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and all its related characters.. Mirage Studio does.


Step One

"We've humoured you with your brooding, teenage angst, but enough is enough!" Raphael's roar echoed throughout the lair. If it weren't for the six inch steel walls, his voice would have carried throughout the sewers.

Even still, Master Splinter had yet to make his presence known. In another time he would have admonished his sons for lacking awareness to their surroundings, but in this case, focusing all their attention on the current storm would be prudent.

The storm with a thousand warnings that always only grazed their foundations until now.

He kept to the shadows to give his sons room and time to talk this through. Patience was something they needed to master. Their sensei wouldn't be around forever to stop serious fights before they happened. Even still, the old rat questioned if now was the time to start this old business. His most devoted student had almost gone rogue against his wishes all too often lately.

"What's the matter, Raph?" Leonardo's adopted gruff voice almost grated against his agitated brother's shell, "Can't take much of your own medicine?" He turned away from scrutinizing his two youngest brothers' for their apparent failure to keep themselves from almost getting killed. Luckily, their eldest brother averted that fate with his twin katanas, protecting them from enemy blades. But like Master Splinter, Leo knew he couldn't be there all the time if one of them managed to slip up.

The leader of the four brothers continued on, "You said yourself you're enjoying this side of me. After all you do it all the time. I think that takes you off the list of people who can question me."

Michelangelo and Donatello widened their eyes at Leo's antagonizing remark. Their blue banded brother knew he was pushing the buttons for an aversive reaction. Either he didn't care, or it was just what he wanted.

And that was the problem after all, wasn't it? Handling one hot-headed Raphael was a trying experience, handling two was nearly impossible.

Or is it a symptom of something deeper?

Raphael did his best to keep his rage in check, "Don't bring me into this. You're the one going crazy on everyone's asses."

"I am NOT over-reacting. They need to know, like you," Leo emphasized by pointing at his red-banded brother, "Every time we go up there… Hell, even at home, we are in potential danger. The attack by the Foot Mystics told us that much."

"I'm not questioning that!" Raphael countered. For long enough he had kept his rage in check, and in the days that passed, he even thought himself was becoming Leonardo and vice versa. It was odd, like looking into a mirror, only the reflection preferred blue. Seeing that reflection in his mind, the rage that worked him into the shouting match started to dissipate. "I'm not questioning you wanting to protect our family, Leo."

The leader of the pack didn't respond to that, neither did he show any other forms of reaction.

The silence had its moment in the spotlight until the uneasiness it left in its wake started to grate on the youngest turtle. Michelangelo gathered the composure he almost lost to Leo. He nudged his brother standing next to him.

Donatello glanced at Mikey, and was unsurprised to notice that his little brother lacked the sense of helplessness and guilt of what they were lectured on weighing on their shoulders. Leo may have been right about being more on guard to protect themselves, but it was an honest mistake. Any one of them could have been dropped on by a punk when the numbers were just too high on the enemy's side. Especially when that enemy were the Purple Dragons, trained and led by Hun. But a mistake is a mistake, one that they cannot afford in their line of work.

That was one of the reasons the turtle genius changed the frequencies on the shell cells after the Astral Plane incident. The devastating loop hole he overlooked had weighed much on his mind afterwards.

It was obvious to Mike that his brother wasn't going to speak up anytime soon, being the quiet one and all. But as the heated dialogue between Leo and Raph started to rise again, Mikey decided to let his voice be known, "C'mon Leo, we get it. We know it. It was a mistake and we won't make it again—"

"That's right you won't be making it." The harsh tone of Leo's voice was not lost on his brothers, "Extra hour of training from tomorrow morning on. For all of you."

Michelangelo was about to protest when Raph beat him to it, "Who died and made you Splinter!"

Leo's eyes narrowed at Raph's poor choice of words, "No one did. And no one will as long as I have a say about it."

Still unknown to the turtles, the master rat continued to watch and hear. Splinter's heart constricted hearing his eldest son's words. The same hardness he felt when Leonardo told him that he would do whatever it takes to protect the family was engraved in his thoughts. It grew concrete after their experiences from what his sons aptly named, the "Bad Day."

"Look Leo," Mikey took a step forward, "we get it. But you're not helping any with your…'Raphing.'" Catching the red-banded turtle's snarl, the youngest merely grinned and shrugged it off, but it failed to lighten the mood of the situation.

Nor Leo's mood. He had had enough. They didn't understand. How serious it was and how dangerous the world is, how fragile trust is, and the choices that are thrust into them that could force them to do things none ever though they would do. "Don't you all get it?"

Raphael crossed his arms waiting for Fearless Leader to sprout some hacked up leader speech. Mikey groaned openly though the underlying current of nervousness was still there. Donatello remained still and silent, very much a statue.

"I'm doing this to keep you all safe since none of you seem to be doing a good job of it!" Leonardo rested his shaking fists to his sides. "None of you understand the responsibility I hold. But it's something we all have to be equally burdened with to survive!"

"Hey!" The new spark in Raphael left a wave of heat emanating from his body, "We are doing exactly that: surviving. And after all we've been through I'd say we're doing a damn good job of it. You're too full of self-pity to realize that!"

"That's not what I saw out there tonight!" Leo poised an accusing finger at the two turtles in question.

Don slowly looked up to the finger, while Mike flinched back.

Despite what the situation was, Mike tried to keep an air of humour but it was getting too much. Even the orange-banded turtle had moments when enough was enough. The past two weeks saw a rise in the family's irritation. "Leo, you just have to chill. You're gonna wake Master Splinter up and—"

"We are through 'chilling', Mikey." Leo retorted icily.

Raphael did not like that tone of voice directed at his younger brother at all. "All because Karai stabbed you in the back after all the warnings—I mean, god, even after what Donny told us—doesn't mean you have to take it out on us."

"This isn't about Karai!"

The three turtles stared at their leader who held his stance firm. Truly, this whole matter wasn't about Karai. Not anymore. Leonardo had discovered how far they were willing to go on that ship Shredder used to attempt to return home. If that final choice the ultimately chose could be averted then he would use everything in his power to prevent sacrifice. That became his mantra every night.

"Then what is this about, Leo?" Out of frustration, out of curiosity, Raphael goaded the turtle on, "And don't give me that bull about it being about us because it's not! It's way beyond that."

With footsteps as silent as the eye of a storm, Leo marched right up to Raph, "I think it's a concept well beyond your grasp, Raphael."

And that was the alarm going off.

Raphael shoved Leo back, growling in fury, "Try me."

"Uh, guys…" Mike stepped up to play referee, but not without looking over his shoulder to Donatello who still had refused to budge.

Ignoring their younger brother's feeble plea, the two males running for alpha position continued to square off. However, instead of yelling back, Leo's voice remained utterly calm, "Out of all of you, I thought you'd like the new me, Raph. Being assertive, taking up the fight before being provoked into one by surprise."

"If you're twistin' your problems into something I've created then you're asking, just asking for a beating, aren't you?" The crack of Raph's knuckles made Mikey cringe.

Leo shook his head in disgust, "Always acting before thinking, before understanding what your action will cost you. You have no idea what it means to sacrifice—"

"Don't assume."

"What?" Leo was caught off guard by Don's sudden need to speak. He was silent throughout the lecture and the fight between him and Raphael. Even Splinter's ears perked at the addition of a voice too long silent.

Ignoring the eyes upon him and staring straight at the blue-banded mutant, Donatello clarified his statement, steady and calm. "Don't assume that we don't know. If you think that we don't' get it, then you don't get that we do understand the reality of our choices."

Leo couldn't help but take that as a decrying remark against his judgement. The tech of the family was a pacifist by nature. How could he possibly understand the necessity to fight and give all of yourself to save your own family? "You of all people, Donatello, have the least to say about knowing sacrifice. Hiding in your lab, behind your gadgets and slacking off on your training—"

"Don't presume I know nothing of sacrifice, Leonardo." Surprising even him, Don's voice lowered to a level none of his brothers heard before. However, he remembered it being the second time he had used it. "You have no idea…"

"Of what? Face it Donny, you've sacrificed toys but you'll never understand the feeling of sending family off to battle—"

The hand that clenched to his side found its mark on Leo's right cheek in a speed no one expected from the quiet turtle.

Leonardo landed hard on his back, his cheek resting in the palm of his hand. The taste of metallic blood alerted him that he had bit the inside of his cheek from the impact. His mouth was opened but no sound coming through as he was as dumbstruck as his brothers at what just transpired.

"That is enough!"

All four turtles snapped their necks to the source of the command. Master Splinter finally made his presence known and stepped under the over-hanging light. The taps of his walking stick echoed in the living room area. Still, none of his sons spoke a word for the longest time. Mike and Raph were glued to their places by the shock, forgetting to see if Leo needed help up. Splinter closed his eyes, hearing the wrong words that were directed at the wrong brother again in his head.

He opened them in time to see Leonardo turned away from his master and stared at the ground beside him. How long had his sensei been standing there, accusing his brothers of something they had to be aware all their lives? To see how the frustration had got to him?

To know that it took a punch to knock him out of his high-horse, self-pitying pedestal?

They expected Splinter to continue, to bark punishments, but it was a horrified Donatello's voice that broke the awkward serenity, "Master… Leo… I…"

Donatello's eyes darted from the fallen turtle to Splinter, then to the rest of his family. For mere seconds that felt like a millennia, he made eye contact with each over and over until finally he turned and ran.

Their brother had been long out of sight and into the haven of his room when Mikey finally spoke a variation of what was on all their minds, "Whoa…"

I hope I haven't been too OOC with these characters. If some of them do seem too out there, I hope that future installments (assuming I get to them) will be good explainations. The second chapter is actually complete (couldn't stop typing) so will be added soon. Be warned that time settings may shift chapter to chapter.

For some dribble: While I was watching "Bad Day" , it could be my bias towards Don talking, but it felt like Donny was suffering the most out of all of them. Fearing for Mikey's safety, his cry after Casey's van blows up, distraught that his invention had supposedly led their deadly enemy right to them...and I found it particularly chilling that Shredder called to Donny by name. I instantly thought back to SAINW. And that's all I'll say for now. Don't want to tell everything :evil grin:

Leave a review if you like,
-Art of Silence